Fear of rejection, people pleasing, and the impact on work

While it is understandable to want to avoid rejection, red flags should go up if you feel an intense need to put other people’s needs before your own. People pleasers who are compulsive will go to great measures to win people over and are a good example. Their desire for stability overrides their ambitions and impulses due to their dependent mentality, and the way they present themselves mirrors how they think other people want them to be rather than who they really are. They typically have a long history of employment, are intelligent, effective team members, and considerate of others’ needs. They serve as the leader’s followers, the creatives’ audience, and the problematic co-worker’s listening ear.

They seldom ever argue with co-workers and, in many respects, serve as the foundation of organizations. Their emotional antennae are tipped more outward than within, though. They are less aware of their own internal environments when they are tuning into other people. They repress their feelings and beliefs, lose track of their goals, and—most concerningly—disconnect from who they really are.

While their co-workers gain from their generosity, they ultimately lose out because they are unable to reach their full potential or experience the fulfillment that comes from a job well-lived.

They stop thinking for themselves and start relying on their supervisors and co-workers to make decisions and even think for them. Companies lose out on their distinctive talents despite benefiting from their persistent, cooperative work. In this way, the cycle of gratification and dependence picks up speed.

Thoughts lack energy when they are not expressed verbally, which inhibits change and development. To break out of this pattern, motivation is essential. Internal conflict develops when the need to please conflicts with one’s goals. Although this tension is unpleasant, it can inspire the will for change.

If one is willing to confront and resolve these tensions and ambiguities, one can progress personally and professionally. Santosh, a 35-year-old unmarried man who worked in digital marketing, experienced this. His wit and charm provided the ideal cover for his deeper fears, which were nevertheless very close to the surface.

He had to deal with the tension between trying to please people and succeeding because of a promotion. Throughout my whole life, I’ve used pleasing others as a means of preventing rejection. This helped him in his early jobs, but when he was elevated to a leadership position, his fear of being rejected made it difficult for him to make difficult decisions and have uncomfortable conversations.

I was curious to learn more about his predicament. Can you describe how your worries affect how well you function at work? He stated, “It’s inhibiting because the choices you make are layered with lots of considerations about how the other person might feel, or react, or how they might be inspired to speak against you, or how they might recruit others against you.” To make up for it, you either soften what you’re going to say or disguise your own intentions so as not to offend them. That implies that you are less effective and productive. I keep my mouth shut if there is even the slightest potential that they might be upset. You don’t want to take the chance of offending someone since they might leave or convince others to leave as well.

You’re not being honest if you’re worried about whether they’ll think poorly of you. As a result, you feel awful about yourself and they think you should be communicating with them directly. The fact that he was always expecting the next threat because of his hypervigilant state of mind was undoubtedly concerning.

 “Staying on high alert often puts you on the verge of an anxiety attack, and your irrational concerns about others mean you betray yourself,” I advised him. He replied, “If you take people on, then you’re making enemies.” You figure out a means to avoid doing this by attempting to boost other people’s self-esteem. You repress your own personality at the same time. Everything is premeditated; it’s a performance. This is what makes it exhausting because you’re trying to project an image that will prevent rejection.

I told him that despite his new, higher-ranking position, he continued to feel that others—whether subordinates, colleagues, or clients—held sway because they had the authority to reject him. His self-confidence suffered as a result, and he forced himself to work harder to prove his value, but the long hours were making him burn out. He was prone to misinterpret circumstances, seeing risks where none existed, or get distracted so much that he overlooked a real threat.

He acknowledged, “I’ve either not taken something seriously when I should have, or I’ve been prepared for a fight when I simply misread the signs.”

His apparent compassion for other people was actually a coping mechanism for deeper emotional traumas from his early years.

In reality, trauma is an emotional and physical reaction to any traumatic incident. By numbing intense emotions like sadness, helplessness, or fury, the mind hurries to shield the person from overpowering emotions. However, these encounters leave a lasting impression on the way we think, relate to others, control our emotions, and process our experiences by leaving traces in our memories, emotions, unconscious, and even in our bodies.

This includes how we perceive things and respond at work.

This was the situation with Santosh, who was born following his mother’s miscarriage of two previous children, and who grew up to be the center of attention for his mother and everyone else at home.  He realized as he got older that people did not adore him as much as they had when he was younger.  Contrary to what he had come to believe, the world was very different.  As a result, he developed a strong desire to win people over so that he could receive their full attention.  He eventually developed an obsessive need to appease others.

Alas! It was starting to take a toll on him.


  1. Do you often compromise your own goals and agendas in order to not offend others?
  • How has ‘people pleasing’ affected your role as a leader or when you grew into a leadership role, both at home and in office?

Self-handicapping Behavior – Pressing the self-destruct button

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Self-handicapping behavior and fear of failure to some of us are associated with feelings far more damaging than disappointment and frustration, such as embarrassment and shame. As a result, the prospect of failure can be so terrifying that we unconsciously lower our expectations for success. While lowering expectations may appear to be a reasonable approach, the manner in which we do so can result in us unwittingly sabotaging ourselves and others.

Self-handicapping behavior

Brinda, a woman in her late thirties with whom I once worked, had taken a ten-year break from her career in HR to raise two young children. Brinda and her husband decided it was time for her to return to work when her youngest child started kindergarten. Brinda quickly used her network to secure job interviews at four different companies. Despite her insider status and impressive credentials, none of them contacted her for a follow-up interview.

Brinda was deeply embarrassed by her failure, not to mention perplexed. Although she thought she had done her best, it soon became clear that her fear of failure had led her to unconsciously sabotage one opportunity after another. Or, more accurately, it became clear to me quickly. Brinda, on the other hand, was certain she had done everything possible to succeed.

“Look,” Brinda explained, “I understand why the first company turned me down.” “I didn’t have time to research it before the interview because my daughter had a big athletic event, and I promised to bake some cake for the school team.”

Brinda’s account of the second interview revealed an equally unconvincing narrative. “My mom called the night before and I got stuck on the phone with her for three hours. She was upset about my brother and his wife heading for break up, and I felt bad about cutting her off.”

“Well, what happened there was my nails were a mess and I thought I’d have time to do a quick mani-pedi before the interview, but I misjudged the time and got there half an hour late,” Brinda explained of the third interview. Perhaps forty-five minutes. Regardless, they refused to see me. “Are you kidding me?” I could certainly believe it, but I politely declined to nod.

Brinda went on to say that a severe migraine headache had kept her awake the night before her fourth interview. “I was completely exhausted!” “Can you believe I forgot to bring a copy of my resume?” I’m sure I’ll laugh about it later.” I doubted Brinda would find the situation amusing, but I held my tongue once more.

Most people who heard Brinda’s story would recognize an obvious pattern of excuses, avoidance, and self-sabotaging behavior that would almost certainly lead to failure. Brinda, on the other hand, was completely unaware. Her subconscious mind understood that by blaming obstacles for any potential failures, she could avoid the shame and embarrassment she feared.

Fear of failure drives many of us to engage in self-handicapping behaviors in which we exaggerate or create impediments to success without even realizing it.

Indeed, in order to have something to blame for our failure, we are often extremely creative in the self-handicapping devices we construct.

Many of us procrastinate and “run out of time” before a big test. We might go out with friends and drink too much the night before a big presentation, or we might sleep too little. We might leave our study materials at a friend’s house or on the subway. We might forget to pack the baking tray for the city-fair baking contest, or we might arrive at the marathon with only our left sneaker. And, as Brinda demonstrates, we can create an infinite number of physical ailments.

If we succeed despite these setbacks, we can give ourselves extra credit for succeeding when the odds were stacked against us.

Self-handicapping, of course, rarely leads to success. Furthermore, such strategies prevent us from accurately examining our failures and drawing useful conclusions about what we should change or do differently in the future.

Even when someone else points it out, the unconscious nature of self-handicapping can make us miss it.

Brinda was initially convinced that all of her excuses were valid and that her failure was the result of events over which she had no control. When I suggested otherwise, she replied, “You don’t expect me to break a promise to my daughter, do you?”

When we fail repeatedly or respond to failures in ways that undermine our confidence, self-esteem, and chances of future success, we risk turning our emotional cold into psychological pneumonia.

Because much of the anxiety associated with failures can compound, it is best to be cautious and seek help as soon as possible after significant or bothersome failures occur.

Which one of the following self-handicapping behaviors do you think affects people the most?

  1. Procrastinating
  2. Brooding
  3. Excusing
  4. Blaming

Honey, I shrunk myself!

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Top batters in the game of cricket have long claimed that when they’re in form the ball literally seems bigger to them (and therefore easier to hit). Not surprisingly, when their form deserts them and they are in a slump they report that the cricket ball appears smaller and more difficult to hit.  They seem to mishit more often than connect.

I decided to test this phenomenon of how the chatter in our brain especially after a failure impacts our performance and shrinks our self-confidence and self-esteem.

I asked a group of participants to kick a  football through a makeshift goal from a ten-yard distance. Each participant was asked to take ten kicks. Before starting, all the participant’s estimates of the width and height of the goal were very similar.

I observed after all had completed their attempts at the goal, those who failed at the task by scoring fewer goals were estimating the goal of being far narrower than those who succeeded.  The participants who succeeded were estimating the goal to be wider and the distance for taking the shot as shorter.

It seems that “failure” can make our goal seem literally more difficult and more imposing than it appears before you begin your attempt. Failure not only makes our goal appear larger, but it would also makes us feel “smaller”.

Failing can induce thoughts that make us feel less capable, less skillful, less competent, less intelligent, or even less attractive.  Such thoughts seem to have a huge negative impact on our self-confidence and on future efforts and outcomes.

I’ve come across many college students who after failing a midterm test, might view themselves as less capable and view the class as more difficult, making them more worried and less confident about doing well in the final exam. While some students may work harder as a consequence, others may be so intimidated that they begin questioning their ability to pass the class ever in the future.

But what if that failed midterm also happened to be their first college exam? What if they perceive not just the class but college as a greater challenge than they are capable of meeting? Because they are unaware that failing the midterm has distorted their perceptions (making the class and college appear more difficult than they are), they may make hasty and inappropriate decisions as a result. Indeed, many students drop out during their first year for this very reason – similar to kid #1 in my earlier post on failure.

Failure has a greater negative impact on our self-esteem. Many of us react to failures by drawing damaging conclusions about our character and abilities that seem extremely compelling at the time, even if they have no merit. Many of us react to failure by thinking or saying things like, “I’m such a loser,” “I can’t do anything right,” “I’m just not smart enough,” “I’m such an idiot,” “I deserve to lose,” “People like me never get anywhere,” and “Why would anyone want to hire me?” or similar assassinations of characters.

Few would argue that such depressing and ineffective thoughts have any redeeming qualities. Yet, all too often, we allow ourselves to indulge in them, utter them aloud, and validate them. If our six-year-old failed a spelling test and declared, “I’m a stupid loser who can’t do anything right,” most of us would rush in to refute every word and forbid him from ever saying such horrible things about himself again.

Such negative thoughts would, without a doubt, make him feel worse in the moment and make it more difficult for him to succeed in the future. Yet, far too often, we fail to apply the same logic and wisdom to our own situations.

Negative generalizations are not only inaccurate, but they do more harm to our general self-worth and future performance than the initial failure that spawned them. Criticizing our qualities so broadly makes us hypersensitive to future failures, can lead to deep feelings of shame, and can jeopardize our overall well-being.

Furthermore, doing so prevents us from accurately assessing the causes of our failure and avoiding similar errors in the future. For example, blaming our inability to achieve personal improvement goals on character flaws makes it unlikely that we will identify and correct critical errors in planning and strategic goal setting that is far more likely to be to blame for our failure.

When faced with failure, which one of these according to you is more likely to occur?

  1. Internalizing – self-doubt
  2. Externalizing – Blame outside forces
  3. Withdrawal – quitting
  4. Other – mention in comments

Emotional chills could turn into psychological pneumonia

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I visited a daycare center run by a friend of mine.  As I sat observing a group of four tiny kids playing in one corner of the room, I got to reflect on how we respond to failures in our life and the impact it has on our emotional well-being.

Here is what I saw.

Emotional chills

The four were playing with identical Teddy-in-the-box toys. To open the box and release the cute teddy bear inside, they must slide a large button on the box’s side to the left. They somehow seemed to figure out that the button is where the action is, but sliding is a difficult skill to master.

I saw Kid #1 depress the button. It was immobile. She pressed the button firmly. The box starts rolling away from her. She tries reaching out with her hand, but it is still out of reach. She turns away and begins to twiddle her thumb and play with her diaper.

Kid #2 fiddles with the button for a few moments before giving up. He sits back and stares at the box, his lower lip trembling, but he doesn’t open it. Tears welled up in his eyes.

Kid #3 tries to force open the top of the box. She then presses the button. Undaunted, she continues to experiment until ten minutes later—success! Teddy squeaks out as she slides the button, and the top springs open. She squeals with delight, replaces Teddy in the box, and tries again.

Kid #4 notices the third child opening her box. He flushes, smacks his own box with his fist, and bursts into tears.

When we fail as adults, we tend to react in very similar ways (albeit few of us resort to playing with our diapers). Failure can make us believe that our goals are out of reach, leading us to give up too soon (as did kid #1, whose box rolled away).

Some of us are so demoralized by failure that we freeze, become passive, and helpless (like kid #2, who quit).

Some of us fail but persevere until we succeed (like kid #3), while others become so stressed and self-conscious that we can’t think straight (like kid #4, who burst into tears).

How we deal with failure is critical to our overall happiness and well-being as well as our success in life. While some of us handle failure well, many of us do not. Failure always hurts and disappoints, but it can also be an educational, informative, and growth experience if we take it in stride, figure out what we need to do differently the next time, and persevere in pursuing our goals. However, as with many psychological wounds we sustain in daily life, ignoring the injuries failure inflicts can exacerbate a bad situation, and in some cases, make it far worse.

None of us reaches adulthood without encountering failure thousands of times, and many more such encounters await us in life. Failure is such a common human experience that what distinguishes us is not that we fail, but how we respond when we do. Such distinctions are especially noticeable when observing those who fail more frequently and frequently than anyone else’s children.

One of the most common ways for children to learn is to try, fail, and try again. Fortunately, children are generally persistent and determined (otherwise, we’d never learn to walk, talk, or do much of anything), but they can also react to failure in dramatically different ways.

Although our various ways of coping with failure are established early in life, we are not doomed to repeat the mistakes of our childhood. Even those who respond to failures in the most ineffective and damaging ways can learn to use more favorable and psychologically healthy coping strategies.

However, in order to do so, we must first understand the impact failure has on us, the psychological wounds it causes, and the emotional challenges we face.

Failures are the emotional equivalent of chest colds in that everyone gets them, and everyone feels terrible when they do. We usually recover from chest colds because we change our activities when we get them—we rest, drink warm fluids, and dress warmly. If we ignore a cold, it will most likely worsen and, in some cases, progress to pneumonia.

When we fail, we face similar threats to our mental health, but few of us are aware of the need to employ the psychological equivalents of resting, drinking warm fluids, and dressing warmly. As a result, many of our failures cause unneeded psychological harm, the consequences of which can harm our emotional well-being far beyond the impact of the failure itself.

How would you respond?

Emotional Abuse – Important things to know

Do you feel emotionally drained in your Relationship?

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Mentally abusive relationships cause enormous emotional damage to the loving partner who tries, against all odds, to hold the relationship together and, ultimately, can’t do it, because her partner is working against her.

Whether you are currently in a mentally abusive relationship, have left one recently, or years later are still struggling with the anxieties and low self-worth, and lack of confidence caused by mental abuse, it is never too late to heal.

But you do need to work with a person or a program specifically geared to mental abuse recovery. Women who have suffered mental abuse expect a radical change in themselves, and they expect it right away. This is why they often struggle and, not uncommonly, take up with another abusive partner.

Emotional Abuse


  1. You are always told that it’s your fault– Somehow, whatever happens, however it starts, the ultimate blame is always yours. Notice that we are talking ultimate blame here. The blaming partner will always tell you that their behavior was caused by what you said or did. In fact, their argument runs along the lines that you can’t possibly blame them for anything because if you hadn’t said what you said, or done what you did it would never have happened.
  2. You’re more inclined to believe your partner than you are to believe yourself– Have you ever reeled with a sense of hurt and injustice, or seethed with anger at the way you’ve been treated? Have you found yourself asking: Is it reasonable to feel like this? Am I misinterpreting things? If this is you, what it means is that you have become so brainwashed you’ve stopped trusting in your own judgment. Your mind keeps throwing up the observations and questions because, deep down, you know that what is happening is utterly wrong. But right now you canít feel the strength of your own convictions.
  3. Your partner blows hot and cold– He can be very loving but is often highly critical of you. He may tell you how much he loves you, yet he is short on care or consideration towards you. In fact, some of the time, maybe even a lot of the time, he treats you as if you were someone he truly dislikes.
  4. You feel as if you are constantly walking on eggshells– There is a real degree of fear in the relationship. You have come to dread his outbursts, the hurtful things that he will find to say to you. (Maybe the same anxiety and need to please spill over into your other relationships also.) Fear is not part of a loving relationship, but it is a vital part of a mentally abusive relationship. It enables the abuser to maintain control over you.

You CAN heal!

Mental abuse recovery is a gradual process. Low self-worth and limiting beliefs about what kind of future the abuse sufferer can ever hope for are the blocks that can stop women from moving on. But they are blocks that you can clear very effectively.

Just as language was once used to harm you, you can now learn how language can heal you. You can overcome past mental abuse and keep yourself safe from it in the future. You can also learn to feel strong, believe in yourself, and create the life and the relationships you truly want.

Dealing with disappointment

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Have you found it difficult to overcome disappointment?

Do you sense a loss of power when faced with disappointment?

Do you find it difficult to think clearly when confronted with failure?

When we are trying to recover from disappointing news or life events, we can do certain things that could provide us with a sense of resilience based on our past experiences.

Dealing with disappointment

Since all of us at some point during our life will face disappointment, some things you can do will help you prepare to handle it and ensure that it doesn’t derail your ultimate success.

How you manage your reaction to disappointment is an important skill. Every one of us will face some sort of disappointment in our career and life. However, how one reacts may separate those who eventually reach their goals and succeed from those who do not.

For example, when we are faced with career disappointment at work, how we react is often noted, labeled, or judged.

If someone who doesn’t get what he/she wants reacts by getting angry, shouting, sulking, or withdrawing his/her performance, they could incur a costly label that will stick to them for long.  As a result, he/she may be passed over for the next raise or promotion.

However, if we react to disappointments or failures with resilience, this attribute will likely help us in the long run. You will also benefit from the inner strength that you will use in times of disappointment.

Gaining Emotional intelligence requires us to gain perspective on life’s disappointments.

Of course, all failures or disappointments are not equal. A bad traffic day is not as bad as a day on which one learns of some terminal illness. Building a perspective helps us face and measure the next disappointment or challenge life may bring to our doorsteps.

The competency of resilience will help us in all aspects of our lives; both personal and professional.

Here are some points for you to consider.

  1. Time –  You would have experienced generally time lessens the intensity of our disappointments.  That is the reason for the phrase “time heals”.  However, there may be an occasional exception. For example, perhaps when you were in high school you wouldn’t have applied yourself and worked hard and didn’t care at that time. Today when you look back, you wish you had worked harder so that you could have gone on to become an engineer or anything that you regret now.
  2. Focus – The more we focus on our failure or disappointments, the stronger it becomes. Replacing our thoughts about it with positive aspects of our lives helps us temper down our emotional reactions to the disappointing events.
  3. ThoughtsChanging one’s thoughts is an important strategy for improving our emotional responses to negative life events and can go a long way in contributing to our resilience. It is the key to building emotional intelligence.
  4. Control  – It is important to look at how rational we are while dealing with our disappointments.  About what is healthy and that which is not.  While examining our failures or disappointments, it would be meaningless to keep trying hard to change external circumstances that are not under our control.  However, it would definitely help if we can start looking at those which are under our control; that about which we can do something.  This would help in getting a different outcome the next time around.  You would have found that most of us get into the habit of ‘externalizing’ all that happens in our lives.  That only leads us to feelings of frustration.  Start by looking at what is under your control and that you can influence.
  5. Learning  – Spending some time learning from the mistakes can help us avoid facing the same disappointments in the future.  The easy way to do that is to ask “What can I learn from this?” or “What is this event trying to teach me?”.

Perfectionism – The Un-Live-Able GOAL!

Do you often find yourself finding it difficult to get past an idea?

Do you wait until everything is ‘PERFECT’ before telling or doing anything?

Do you often find yourself ‘UNHAPPY’ with the outcome and feel that you could have done better?

Many of us experience such emotions that cause immense ‘STRESS’ not just to ourselves but also to those who interact with us – family, friends, and co-workers.

And for the perfectionist in us, it is normal to feel this way.


When we have a thought or idea that we want to do or get across, we have to communicate to
other people. Many do not get past this stage of wanting to, for they decide that they will wait
until everything is perfect before they tell anyone or do anything.

I have heard people say that they’ll start when they have more money, and time, learn more,
practice more, when the kids are older, etc, etc, etc. The challenge with this is there is no perfect time.

The best time to get started is now. Yes, you may need to be selective at first with whom you talk to as there are negative people out there who may try to stop you or shut you down. Yet, I have found that most people shut themselves down by their fears and need to have everything just so.

I was talking to this lady who wanted to go to a job interview. She had spoken to her sister about the interview. Her sister replied, “make sure you do the interview perfectly because in this city people know each other and if you blow it, you can kiss your career goodbye”.

WOW, no pressure there. Going into an interview with that in your mind is a good way to blow it. You will probably be terrified, which can cause the mistakes you are trying to prevent. I have heard things like this before, yet most people are not sitting there just waiting to crush other people who come in. I have found that most are kind, generous, and helpful. What you need is encouragement and just to do your best. The world does not end with a bad interview.

Reality is much brighter when you look at the most successful people out there. They repeatedly said that they failed their way to the top, that they learned from their mistakes, and went on. There are millionaires that lost everything, brushed themselves off, and then created millions. They talked to people and connected with them. You can’t succeed by being a hermit.

We are not born with all knowledge of all things. We are not robots, calculating our every move. We are human beings that learn by what we do. We discover by how we interact. We learn when we communicate our thoughts and ideas.

Are there naysayers out there? Yes, run from them. Find the ones who are looking forward to hearing from you and wish to encourage you. You will always learn more and communicate more with positive and encouraging people.

I remember this one day I was sitting in the car, waiting for my partner while he ran into the store. The following just flowed out onto the paper.


It is in the trying and being that makes us human. It is the journey, not the end that tells us who we are and what we are made of. Perfection is not a means, it leaves no room for variation, creativity, and understanding of the process. It is through trial and error that we gain knowledge and wisdom. We remember and learn more through our mistakes than by what we do perfectly.

For if everything were perfect, done perfectly, there would be no journey, no life, no adventure,…only an end.

Do you wish to STOP! living the un-live-able GOAL! and get rid of the STRESS that it gives? Let’s talk.

Pursuit Of Happiness: 6 Keys To Finding True Happiness

The pursuit of happiness is one of the basic elements of human existence. We want to be happy. So why are so many people unhappy then? Most likely people are not happy because they are missing one of the Six keys to happiness. Here goes 👇🏽

6 Keys to Finding Happiness
  1. The most important key to your personal happiness is determining that you will be happy. For many people, their personal happiness is not a priority in their life. Too often, we put the happiness of others before our own. While this may please our children, spouse, or boss, this is not the path to happiness. This doesn’t mean you should make yourself happy at the expense of others, but you must remember that the reverse should also not be true — your happiness should not be sacrificed to make others happy.
  2. Once you have determined to make your pursuit of happiness a priority you need to determine just what it is that makes you happy. Spend some time reviewing the happy times in your life. Think about memories that make you smile or activities that make you joyful. Can you find a common element or theme? Then that is one of the keys to finding true happiness for you.
  3. Now that you have identified what makes you happy you need to engage in that activity. Perhaps you need a creative outlet? Join a writing group, take an art class, or learn an instrument. Do you need a physical activity? Then find a way to get back into a sport you love or start a new one. All that is necessary is that you find a way to reconnect with this key element.
  4. However true happiness for most of us is not dependent solely on finding that one key. Most of us, also require special people in our lives to be happy. Perhaps you have lost touch with someone important and can reach out to them? Or perhaps it is simply a time to plan some special time with family. It is important to our own pursuit of happiness to stay connected with those we love.
  5. Another essential to finding true happiness is to give of ourselves as well. Helping others in both small and large ways can help make you happier and more content. You might even be able to find a way to combine giving and engaging in an activity that makes you happy. For example, if you love to make people laugh you could organize a community talent show as a fundraiser for a local charity.
  6. Finally, make a list of all the aspects of your life that do make you happy. So many of us get down because we dwell on the negative, but usually, there is something about your life that makes you happy. Make a list of these items so you can have a quick mood enhancer when you feel down.

The pursuit of happiness does not have to be challenging or arduous. Finding true happiness can be as simple as determining, identifying, engaging, connecting, giving, and reminding yourself of the 6 keys to personal happiness.

Unable to decide? I can help you make that decision. Let’s talk 👇🏽

Self-confidence – A sudden drop!

Sometimes there’s a valid reason behind people experiencing a sudden loss of confidence. You may be nearing the completion of a high-stakes project, you’re approaching a deadline and are lagging behind, or you are venturing into unknown territory.

We are largely designed to react to any kind of uncertainty or volatility, complexity or ambiguity with anxiety. Let’s say you seek feedback on an idea you have been thinking of and nine out of ten are at least mildly positive, and one is negative. It is the negative response that is likely to rock you disproportionately.


This is actually helpful overall, as we are designed to find signals of potential (physical or social) harm difficult to ignore.  Though this may not be helpful in every instance.

When you experience a loss of confidence, we must try to broadly figure out if it is a complete false alarm, a justified alarm (e.g., when you become aware you’re completely on the wrong track), or a mix of both.

If you’re charging ahead taking risks and then suddenly lose confidence, this could be a sign to slow down or make a small adjustment in your behavior.

We must understand that strong emotions are a part of our very evolved internal warning system. In fact, all our emotions have a positive, productive reason for being part of our human psyche or system.   As with any system sometimes there is a chance of that getting miscalibrated as in the case of panic attacks or depression.

It’s important however to understand that fundamentally our emotions exist to help and guide us.

Ways to cope with a sudden loss of confidence

Many people including yours truly, swing between feeling reasonably self-confident and feeling anxious from time to time. Are there some simple, practical, and straightforward tips for coping with swings in your confidence? Here goes…

Recognizing the nature of your strong emotions

Recognizing what kind of alarm, you are experiencing is an important first step.  It can help you to stop catastrophizing.

Often when you feel a sudden loss of confidence, it’s a sign that you need to prioritize better, or step back and see the big picture. It’s usually an intuitive signal that sometimes what you are doing isn’t quite right.

However, sometimes you need to remind yourself that it’s not a sign that you are completely useless or that whatever you are doing or going to, do is destined for disaster.

Engage in something productive.

Normally people respond to a loss of confidence with a “freeze”, “flight” or “fight” response.  This could be like avoiding, denying a problem to arguing, defensiveness, etc. What do you do?  What is your usual style?

What you don’t want to do when feeling less confident is to become completely frozen and paralyzed. Doing something that’s productive can help stop that from happening, even if it’s going on a long drive or walking to the neighborhood supermarket for an errand that you have been putting off for a while.

It’s always a balance that you need to strike when trying to be productive and not freeze.  You must not end up using other activities as a form of “flight” response or a distraction.  You must also not end up overworking which then takes the form of a “fight” response to anxiety.

Any which ways, if you are unable to find the balance, be assured that often striking that balance is not so straightforward.  If you are not able to hit the sweet spot, don’t worry, it could just be the nature of the problem you are grappling with.

Take a step back to see the big picture

Often it just takes a “pause” as strong emotions are a signal that you need to stop and take a step back to see the big picture.  These emotions are just one part of the whole and should not affect the final outcome.  It might help you to realize that any journey will have its share of ups and downs.

Seek feedback

Seeking feedback and soliciting opinions from those who have your best interests in mind is a way to keep checking whether you are on the right track or not. You must however be aware of the fact that those who are closest to you while having your best interests may provide feedback that includes “biases”.  The choice will always have to be yours as to what you would do with the feedback.  Generally, I have found that at least when you are stuck in a rut, it helps to get a perspective that is not packaged with strong emotions.

Take breaks

Breaks help a great deal when you are overwhelmed with strong emotions.  It is a good idea to take a shower, go for a walk, listen to some music, or whatever that is not intended to be a flight response but a momentary distraction from the emotional flooding that you are going through.  Some sort of release always acts as a safety valve in the pressure cooker of emotions.

Recognizing that strong emotions and a swing in confidence can lead to a positive outcome

  • You may find that you have been able to go back and complete some unfinished work
  • You may end up creating some methods by which you can measure your progress and get regular feedback if your strategies are working or not.
  • You can end up talking about your fears and anxiety which may lead to the strengthening your relationships with the ones you share
  • You may become open to receiving critical feedback and ideas on the work that you are doing
  • You may end up completing something else that you have been putting off.  It may lead to positive procrastination.

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Introversion – Quiet is NOT BAD at all!

I have observed that when you keep to yourself and have not spoken up in a while or in groups, people think it’s a little weird.

“Why are you being so quiet?” Parents, friends, teachers, acquaintances, even people I barely know are prone to asking me this question. I think most mean well. They probably want to know if I’m all right, or if there’s a reason that I’m keeping to myself.

I don’t think there is a clear-cut answer to this question. Sometimes people are quiet because they are in the middle of a thought or observation. Sometimes they are more focused on listening than on talking. Often, though, the reason could be because that’s just the way they are – their nature.

If you are an “Introvert” by nature, you will relate to this one for sure.  You face such reactions from people throughout your life.  What could be the reason? Where did it all start?

In a family – a parent gets very anxious and concerned if the child remains aloof and finds it stressful in the company of people.  They start to wonder if there is anything wrong with their child that resists social contact.  I’ve heard parents egg their children on to go out, meet people and socialize as if being to oneself is not a good idea and has negative consequences in life.  “I don’t know, my child doesn’t mingle with people much and that concerns me”, is a refrain I have heard many times from anxious parents.  The funny part is from parents who themselves are introverted by nature.  Somehow, they themselves have grown up with a belief that being introverted is not all that beneficial.

In school as well, it always seemed as if “outgoing” was the highest compliment a person could get. In classes, teachers often ask students to speak up more. At school, kids are at times forced to participate in group programs and activities.  Given a choice, some kids would have preferred not to engage in group work and be left alone.  Most get stressed doing so and end up participating in group activities reluctantly which is stressful.

Some are forced to tag along into loud, crowded parties in college, who couldn’t shake the feeling that they would have had a better time eating dinner with a friend or two and going to a movie. Somehow, they never seem to complain about it, though. They might have thought that they were supposed to do these things in order to be considered “normal.

In-office – people who were predisposed to extraverted behavior ended up getting not just visibility but were also considered to be great team players.  A lot of emphases was laid on networking, teamwork, collaboration, so much so that those who preferred to work alone were labeled as non-team players.  I have had several conversations with senior leaders and HR professionals and often heard them say that we need these guys to be more interactive, speak up in groups and meetings.  “Why not get them into a team-building program, where they learn to work with others?”

In all such team-building events and programs, I’ve found some reluctant participants, who somehow seemed to be pushed into situations they are most uncomfortable with.  They were the private types who preferred to be around a limited set of people or to themselves.  This is not to say that they did not interact at all with others or were anti-social.  They just seemed to have a low threshold for noise and social interactions. They were introverts.  These introverts also find that their more extraverted colleagues get more visibility (which is encouraged) and reach the top much faster than them.  This gets them to believe that extraverted behavior is more acceptable even in corporate setups.

“Is it fair?” – not at all.  In fact, they are the ones who actually form close bonds and trustful relationships though with a limited number of people, are predisposed to have meaningful conversations, pose insightful questions, and have the ability to think independently.  They come with a very important trait – that of listening, which is what leads to greater understanding.

In fact, come to think of it, some of the most famous leaders and successful business owners are known introverts.

Why then this bias?  Why do lay so much emphasis on extraversion?  Are we being fair?  Are we pushing people to move away from their natural traits?


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